India (or Bharat or Hindustan) is a dreamland of culture and values. India, once upon a time, was a spiritual and economic superpower. However, modern India no longer retains its superpower status. Reason? Invasions. India has been invaded and exploited innumerable times: first by greedy greeks in 3rd century BC, then by mental Muslim rulers from 10th century AD, followed by bastard Britishers, pudden-head Portuguese, foolish French and dumbass Dutch starting from 16th century AD. Even after India got its independence from foreign rule in 1947, the great nation is still being exploited and ruined by its psychotic and psychopathic politicians.
India has given birth to many great leaders. Two great leaders and freedom fighters of modern India worth mentioning are Mohandas Gandhi and Bhagat Singh. Gandhi is considered as the father of the nation for his arduous task of uniting and leading the nation to its independence. Though the two legends followed different paths, their goal was the same i.e. Indian independence. Now, India is independent but still backward in education, healthcare, economy, finance and business due to its illiterate, uneducated, uncivilized, callous, brutal, savage, cruel, criminal, beastly, barbaric and terroristic politicians. At this critical juncture, a man is born to save India whom I dearly call as the father of independent India and he is the great Arvind Kejriwal.
An engineer turned income-tax officer turned social activist turned politician, Arvind Kejriwal, also called AK-47 is the most dangerous man of independent India. He is dangerous because he is the first person in independent India to have shaken its political system through a people revolution. He is dangerous because he is the first person in independent India to have sent a chilling message to the psychotic and psychopathic politicians that their time has come to an end. And, he is dangerous because he is the first person in independent India to have changed the minds of millions of people (including me) to believe that India can be improved.
Arvind Kejriwal was born on Krishna Janmashtami (birthday of king Krishna) on Aug 16, 1968 in Siwani, Haryana as first of the three children of academically inclined parents Gobind Ram Kejriwal and Gita Devii. Arvind Kejriwal spent most of his childhood in North Indian towns such as Sonepet, Ghaziabad and Hisar. He was a first rank student in his class. He was studious and spent a lot of time studying. As the house he stayed was simple and small, when guests came to his house he would either go to the bathroom or terrace to study. Such was his inclination towards studies.
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)
Arvind Kejriwal, in the first attempt, got accepted into the most reputed engineering college of the country, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). At that time, only around 1200 students were accepted to the five IITs from the entire country. He got his bachelors in Mechanical Engineering getting a score of 8.2/10. The toppers were in the 9 category. If he wanted he could have left India and settled abroad comfortably. Somehow, he decided to stay in India.
In campus placements, Arvind Kejriwal gave an interview for Tata Steel. He was rejected. Being unsure of the reason behind his rejection even though he believed he did well, he called up the company’s chairman. Though he could not talk to the chairman, he was given another chance for the interview and he was selected. He became the assistant manager in the design department and his work included designing the plants and machinery for future steel projects. But, he didn’t like the work. From a senior he learned that if he wants to do something for the country he has to take the civil service exam as that is the only way to work for the country.
Civil Service Exam
Arvind Kejriwal took the civil service exam to become an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer. Out of 300,000 participants who wrote the exam, he was one of the 600 people who cracked all the three phases of the exam. Still, for his rank he could only get Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and not IAS. At that time, IAS was considered the best, next was Indian Foreign Service, followed by IRS and Indian Police Service (IPS). Hence, he thought of trying again for IAS the next year. The following year, he wrote the civil service exam again.
Deeply dissatisfied with his work at Tata Steel, he asked his manager to shift him to the company’s social welfare unit that helps rural villages. Replying that he was appointed as an engineer and not a social welfare officer, his manager told him to decide if he wants to be in the company or quit. The young lad quit from the company.
As he waited for his civil service exam results he joined and worked for various organizations. He visited Calcutta and met Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa and asked her how he can be of help. She asked him to work in a village called Kalighat. He worked there for the ill and dying through Missionaries of Charity. Sometime later he joined Christian Brothers Association to spread education in remote villages. Further, he joined Ramakrishna Mission and later Nehru Yuva Kendra to work in several villages of his home state of Haryana.
Arvind Kejriwal had passed the civil service exam for the second time. But, this time too he could not get IAS. He could only get IRS. He joined the department and became an income-tax officer.
In 1992, Arvind Kejriwal was appointed as an assistant commissioner. He had a staff of around 10 people. His work was to go through the income statements and tax returns of the people and analyze their incomes. He had the rights to raid people if they were suspected of evading taxes. In this 14 year experience of being an income-tax officer he had been in positions like assistant commissioner, deputy commissioner and additional commissioner.
Arvind Kejriwal saw the gigantic amount of corruption in India through his own department. His department was supposed to be the collection of some of the most sincere and brightest officers of civil service. But it turned out to be not true. On the first day in his IRS job, he had an informal talk with his boss. It came as a shock to him when he was advised by his boss as “In the first few years of your service, you should make sufficient money for yourself so that you can appear to be honest for the rest of your life.” That was the instant when he started believing that almost everyone is corrupt. He learned of rampant corruption by the staff of the department and he did not have powers to remove them. If he was going behind them to trap them in their corrupt activities then he thought he would not be doing his job. He saw that most tax payers were giving bribes to the tax officers not to expose them. If he had involved in corruption, he would have easily made $200,000 at the exchange rate of 2006.
In 1998, Arvind Kejriwal along with some of his friends created a society called Karmayogis Association for Bringing Indian Regeneration (KABIR). The society aimed at persuading people and associations not to pay their electricity bills to bring attention the corruption in the electricity department. Somehow the society did not take off. The next society he built was Parivartan (transformation) in 1999 along with a chartered accountant Kailash Goduka and a retired army officer J. N. Pandey. The organization aimed at helping people not to pay bribes to get their work done in the income tax department.
Asking people not to pay bribes does not work. People are afraid that if they do not pay bribes to the required government officials they might not get the tax refunds, they might not get electricity from the following month etc. Parivartan solved this problem taking a different approach. It helped people to do paper work for free. Then those tax statements were submitted to the chief commissioner who would make sure that the things are done properly. More people came to Parivartan with their grievances and the organization solved their problems. When banners all across the city was put, the chief commissioner got angry.
Parivartan had to process around 400 complaints, one of them from an old lady who was struggling to get her tax refund since 1978. After facing a lot of problems from the chief commissioner, moving to court by filing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), talking to media, begging in front of politicians and asking the help of senior vigilance people, somehow the amazing suggestions from Parivartan were implemented in the income tax department. The beautiful changes include:
- Process tax refunds according to acknowledgment numbers so that no one gets a preferential treatment.
- Display the acknowledgment number of latest tax refund to make sure that there is absolutely no preferential treatment.
- Issue time limits when various jobs will be completed. If the jobs are not completed within stipulated time, a penalty should be imposed.
Similarly, Parivartan did a magic in the electricity department too. The number of complaints decreased from 50 per month to around 5 by the implementation of the suggestions of Parivartan.
Right to Information (RTI)
At the time when people in Parivartan were thinking how to sustain the fight against corruption a magical bill called Right to Information (RTI) was passed by the state government. As per the law, five rights were given to the citizens:
- Right to ask any information from government departments.
- Right to inspect any government document.
- Right to ask for a photocopy of any government document.
- Right to ask for an inspection of any government work.
- Right to ask for a sample of materials to be used for any government work.
In Feb 2002, a Delhi citizen Ashok Gupta came to Parivartan to complain that he had not got his electricity connection and it has been two years since his application. An RTI application was filed and within 10 days he got the electricity connection. If an RTI application is filed, the respective department has to answer the question within 1 month or else a fine of Rs50 per day has to be paid by the responsible government officials. In a couple of months, Parivartan filed nearly 200 RTI applications and the job were being done in 10-15 days.
Once, Parivartan members tried to file RTI applications at the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. the implementation system was not in place. Arvind Kejriwal and others sat in front of their office and waited for the commissioner. The additional commissioner said that it could take two months to get the work done. The volunteers did not move and they said they will wait until it gets done. That day evening at 6 pm, the commissioner told the members that the RTI has been implemented at the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and accepted all their applications.
Going ahead, Parivartan filed several RTI applications on several topics in several departments. Through these they were unearthing the gigantic amount of corruption in India. For one department they got to see the 182 contracts and almost Rs7,500,000 was looted. One contract said there would be 29 hand pumps in an area but only 14 were implemented, another contracted said 29 electric motors but only 1 was to be found in reality. Hell lot of money was looted this way.
Parivartan members had to face a lot of problems from government, corrupt people and police. In one incident, they filed RTI applications in food department for people who did not have ration cards and for those who were not getting food at subsidized prices. The food department said that everything was being sent to the ration shops. The shop owners of 17 ration shops knowing the threat beat up the Parivartan members badly. When they ran to the police station, they were surrounded by a mob of 300 people who shouted “Hand over the Parivartan members and we will burn them alive”. These are some of the horrific incidents faced by Parivartan volunteers in their journey to expose the corrupt.
For many more interesting incidents, please refer the link.
Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF)
Arvind Kejriwal was awarded Ramon Magsaysay award in 2006 for his extraordinary leadership in using RTI to expose the corruption. Being a great man, he donated all his money into founding an NGO called Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF) based in Delhi to ensure that our society becomes more inclusive and that real power rests with the common citizens of India. The foundation works to collect, research, analyze, and disseminate information about various aspects of governance to ensure that rules and laws are enacted and enforced and policies implemented.
PCRF created the RTI awards to encourage people to unearth corruption. It also works at the grass roots to strenghten democracy based on the concepts of gram sabhas and mohalla sabhas to empower people. The foundation has been funded by many businessmen and bankers including Infosys founder N. R. Narayana Murthy. Click here for detailed audit information of the account. You can also see that they have refunded millions of rupees as the donors’ names were not given. Keeping the transactions in public domain and publishing the donor names help in curbing corruption to the maximum extent.
India Against Corruption (IAC)
The organization India Against Corruption (IAC) was formed to fight against corruption. In present India, through a committee called Lokayukta, the corrupt people can be exposed but they cannot be punished. Even if the case moves to court, it takes years to prove that the people are corrupt and send them to jail. If the corrupt are sent to jail, they will get bail and get released from the jail within 20 minutes. So, the members of IAC thought of creating a people movement to bring about a bill to give powers to punish the corrupt and this bill was called Lokpal. Arvind Kejriwal is one of the creators of this bill. Some of the most important features of it are here.
At around 2011, a few dignitaries came together for a proposal of creating a Lokpal committee which had powers to arrest and charge government officials who are accused of corruption. They launched a campaign to mobilize the masses in support of the bill that would help to bring a corruption-free India. The IAC members included Anna Hazare, who is a social activist responsible for many changes at the village- and town-level, Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Kumar Vishwas, Ramdev, and Kiran Bedi. There were a lot of protests and fasts done at majorly two places Jantar Mantar and Ramlila Maidan and some portion of India media helped to popularize it which later became a people’s movement. Thousands of people joined the protests.
The anti-corruption movement went till 2012, when there was a difference of opinion between Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. Anna Hazare thought we should not enter politics and we should tried to fight from outside. He believed that as it is a people movement it is good to be apolitical. On the other hand, Arvind Kejriwal trusted that we can only change the system by getting inside the system i.e. by entering into politics. I believe that was one of the most beautiful and practical decisions taken by Arvind Kejriwal. That led to the creation of a political party lead by Arvind Kejriwal, the Aam Aadmi Party.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)
Arvind Kejriwal formally launched a political party called Aam Aadmi Party (meaning: Common Man Party) on Nov 26, 2012. A former Law Minister and a very senior advocate of Supreme Court of India, Shanti Bhushan donated Rs10 million as the initial funding. Many people from different vocations joined the party of the common people.
In Dec 2012, my sister was gang raped in Delhi brutally and she died within a few days. Thousands of people from all streams joined the protests against the Indian government for not taking action and for asking stricter laws against sexual harassment and rapes. Absolutely nothing happened. The anger against the horrible system was increased day by day.
In the coming months, the AAP led several protests against the bad government. Arvind Kejriwal held indefinite fast to mobilize people against inflation in power and electricity bills. Ordinary people like shop keepers, building workers, etc were getting electricity bills like Rs15000 and more. He asked them not to pay electricity bills. Around 300000 people of Delhi joined him in the protests. Arvind Kejriwal also gave information about the water supply in Delhi from the private companies. He promised the people of Delhi that if the party comes to power there would be 50% reduction in the electricity prices and upto 70 liters of water usage per family is free and if they use more water they have to pay for the whole. The party got a tremendous response from the public. Many associations joined the party and gave their support. Arvind Kejriwal contested the Delhi assembly elections in 2013.
It was the first time that a political party contested the elections not basing on religion, caste, and community. It was the first time that a political party was crowd-funded from the Indian citizens spread all over the world. It was the first time that a political party created a hope in the minds of millions of Indians that the system can be changed.
Chief Minister of Delhi
In an unprecedented move, within one year of forming a political party, the AAP came to power in Delhi and Arvind Kejriwal became the Chief Minister of Delhi winning over an old woman who was a three Chief Minister. None of the parties got a clear majority. AAP had got 28 out of 70 seats. With outside support of some other party, AAP came to power. The entire incident shook the politics of India. Arvind Kejriwal took oath as the Chief Minister at Ramlila Maidan and worked for five office hours the same day. In the next couple of days, he slashed electricity prices by half who consumer up to 400 units of power, gave free water up to 667 liters as promised, ordered audits of power distribution companies, transferred 800 officers for inefficiency and several others.
When Arvind Kejriwal was in power, the corrupt were so afraid of him that there were a lot of reporting that the government officials were literally burning off the official government papers to escape involvement in corruption. The most beautiful stategy Arvind Kejriwal thought about to handle corruption is the creation of helpline numbers. He said that “if someone asks for a bribe do not oppose him, just give the money but secretly record your audio or video conversations from the mobile”. If they show the proof to the anti-corruption branch, then they would tackle with the corrupt and send them jail. Five people involved in big amounts were sent behind jails. This created so much of attention that every man became an anti-corruption crusader and corruption levels went low. He became a national hero.
Arvind Kejriwal wanted to bring two earth-shattering bills: Jan Lokpal bill and Swaraj bill that would change everything. One was related to anti-corruption and another decentralization of power. All other parties did not support even the introduction of the bills and hence, after 49 days of becoming the Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal resigned from the state’s highest power.
Many dignified people supported Arvind Kejriwal in his great cause of changing the political system and bringing in an insanely honest, sincerely non-corrupt and hardcore efficient government. The grandson of Mohandas Gandhi, who worked as a Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and the grandson of Lal Bahadur Shastri, who worked at Apple joined Aam Aadmi Party to support Arvind Kejriwal. The Hindi actor Anil Kapoor will be producing a movie called Nayak-2 (meaning: leader) being inspired from Arvind Kejriwal. Again, influenced from Arvind Kejriwal, a political party named Pakistani Aam Aadmi Party has been created to fight their horrible government. Arvind Kejriwal came as one of the 100 most influential people on TIME magazine in 2013. There is no end to the greatness of Arvind Kejriwal.
Arvind Kejriwal’s Vision
Arvind Kejriwal knows the problems of India and has solutions for them. Here are the two main visions of Arvind Kejriwal:
- Jan Lokpal.
It looks like Arvind Kejriwal has a PhD in anti-corruption. Because of his experience as an income-tax officer and RTI activist he knows how deep rooted is corruption in India. Corruption perceptions index says that India ranks 94 among 175 countries (rank 1 means least corrupt). As per Arvind Kejriwal, corruption is of two types:
(a) Extortionist corruption: This is where the money taker forcefully takes money from the people. For example, when a police gets money from a shop-keeper saying that if he does not give money he has to go to jail for some reason.
(b) Mutual corruption: This is where both money taker and giver mutually get involved in corruption. For example, land scams, property scams, private companies etc.
As per Arvind Kejriwal, the former is more dangerous because a person is forced to pay money to survive everyday. Anti-corruption helpline numbers, audio/video recording of people involved in corruption, Jan Lokpall bill and RTI can be used to curb corruption and reduce it by 80%.
Swaraj is all about decentralization of power. Arvind Kejriwal is the one who propounded the importance of true democracy. Voting once in five years and begging the politicians for everything is not a true democracy. Villages should have some power to take decisions and use their money on education, healthcare, or other basic facilities. As of now, a few people decide for an entire village, town, city what the people want. The problems are different for every area. Hence, the necessities are different for different areas. Hence, the implementation of gram sabhas or mohalla sabhas will be very useful where people meet once in 1 month or 2 months and decide what they want. Also, if some work has not been done properly they have the right to stop the payments for the respected government officials. This increases transparency and reduces corruption People will have direct power. It is a mind-blowing concept of true democracy. The core idea of the concept is that “collective wisdom of the people is far superior than individual wisdom of the politicians”. For more explanation of this ground-breaking concept, please refer the Swaraj book.
I see parallels between Arvind Kejriwal and Mohandas Gandhi and Bhagat Singh. Arvind Kejriwal’s guts is similar like Bhagat Singh and his simplicity is in line with that of Mohandas Gandhi. Arvind Kejriwal, the father of independent India has dedicated his life for a big change ahead, a change that will sweep the country for all good. Arvind Kejriwal is the person who made millions of people including me believe that politics is good. Arvind Kejriwal is the person who made millions of people including me believe that India can be improved. Arvind Kejriwal is the person who inspired, motivated and influenced millions of people including me to work for the country. India might be a developing country in economy but it is severely underdeveloped morally, ethically and philosophically. In future, I shall try to make India a developed country by giving the right education.
Arvind Kejriwal, in this battle between honest v/s corrupt, good v/s bad, light v/s darkness, truth v/s untruth and dharma v/s adharma, I shall support you to the fullest. Let us fight till our last breath for a better India.
Inquilab Zindabad (Long Live Revolution).
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
- Mohandas Gandhi.